Rwandan journalist Agnès Uwimana Nkusi was freed on 18 June after completing a four-year sentence on charges including “harming state security” that were prompted by her reporting. Nkusi’s unflinching commitment to information freedom led Reporters Without Borders on 3 May to name her one of 100 “information freedom heroes.”
Behind bars since July 2010, Nkusi initially faced up to 17 years in prison on charges of inciting “civil disobedience”, “prompting division”, and “genocide denial”. The accusations followed publication of articles critical of President Paul Kagame. On 5 April 2012, the Supreme Court of Rwanda reduced her sentence to four years, upholding two charges against her: “damaging state security” and “defamation of President Kagame”. Her prison term ended on 18 June, a year after the release of Saidat Mukakibibi, her colleague, who was arrested with her.
“We are happy to know that Agnès is free,” said Virginie Dangles, deputy head of research and advocacy at Reporters Without Borders. “But we would like to make clear that her imprisonment was as unjust as it was arbitrary and should never have happened.”
For four years, Reporters without borders has demanded that Nkusi’s sentence be overturned and that she be freed. Now that she has been released, the fight for her legal rehabilitation can begin.
Rwanda is ranked 162 of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2014.